Classics > Historical Fiction
A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.
… Oh, Gatsby. *crey crey*
The drama should’ve turned me off. While listening to the first chapter of the Great Gatsby, somehow it reminded me of the characters’ theatrics in Pride and Prejudice. Flirty, silly, annoying. If this was Gatsby’s narrative, it would’ve been a disaster. Fortunately, Nick Carraway was the perfect person to tell Gatsby’s story.
Of course I could not understand Gatsby’s
madness undying love for Daisy. That social climbing, opportunistic girl?!! Sigh. And just like Nick, I was apprehensive about Gatsby. What kind of man would throw lavish parties in order to draw out a married woman into it? The simple intrigue was interesting enough for me to continue listening.
In the end, Carraway’s unexpected affinity to Gatsby made the drama (and the heartache) worthwhile. I mean, if I strip down the shallowness and immorality of the characters, I found strength in Carraway’s steadfastness to stand by Gatsby after everything. The tragedy would normally strike me in a sour manner, but it didn’t. And I was glad. 😀
What happened to Jay Gatsby, it was unfair. But he had it coming when he started messing with another man’s wife, yes? And Daisy moving on, how dare her. (Yes, I hate you.)
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published by Recorded Books